I know we've all experienced this before. You think you've cracked the code on what's healthy, come to find the ingredients are actually making you bloated and gaining weight even though it's supposed to be low calorie. Wtf?!
Weight loss can be tricky if you're new to it, and even more tricky when you've been trying it for a while and can't seem to lose those pounds. It's probably because the foods you're eating are actually slowing down the progress. Most of the time, if something is designed to help you lose weight or is low calorie, it's not good for you at all.
There is no short cut to becoming healthy, and definitely no magical pill that will zap the pounds away. Being healthy is hard work and dedication every single day! So if you're stuck in that rut, here are 10 foods you should and shouldn't be eating for weight loss:
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1. Should: Healthy Fats
There is such a stigma around healthy fats. People hear the word fat and think that it'll make you fat, and that's the biggest myth out there. Healthy fats come from coconut oil, fish, avocado, MCT oil, nuts, etc. Healthy fats help stabilize your blood sugar, which keeps you from crashing and reaching for something super sugary and unhealthy. Unsaturated fats = healthy. Trans and saturated fat = unhealthy. Reading labels will save your life when it comes to healthy/unhealthy fats!
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2. Shouldn't: "Low Calorie" Snacks
These are what I used to live on in high school. The 100 calorie Oreo packs or Chips Ahoy where you would say it was enough to satisfy your sweet tooth and then end up eating 3 more bags because you were still starving. Low calorie snacks are filled with added sugars and they're basically empty carbs with no nutritional value. It benefits you much more to eat the regular cookie than it does to eat the one with 50% less sugar or fat, because usually those things are just taken out and filled with something else. The skinny syrup from Starbucks is much worse than the regular syrup! There are healthy alternatives to everything, just do your research!
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3. Should: Lean Protein
Lean protein, carbs, and healthy fats are what leans out your body and helps you lose weight. If your diet consists of that, with a balanced lifestyle you'll be more than fine. However, it's a little more complicated than that for most people. Lean protein consists of seafood, white-meat poultry, eggs, some protein powder, beans, etc. It's beneficial for your body to give it protein, which is why a lot of vegans feel tired all the time because even though carbs give you energy, they don't keep you full for long. Protein keeps you full, carbs give you energy and healthy fats help stabilize your blood sugar levels so when the carbs turn into sugar your blood sugar doesn't drop. Try to incorporate lean protein into at least two meals a day to fight off cravings.
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4. Shouldn't: Low Fat Foods
Ever see how dairy products will give you an option of fat free or full fat? Always choose full fat. The reason is because fat free has a ton of additives that are actually worse for you than the full fat. If you're worried that switching from fat free to full fat dressings or yogurt will make you gain weight, you're totally wrong. You're getting rid of all that junk in the products and leaving it the way it's supposed to be!
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5. Should: Fill Your Plate With Veggies
If you get hungry right after eating a salad, it's probably because you didn't fill it enough. Don't be scared of vegetables considering you can eat as many as you want and nothing will happen since they're so low in calories. Butternut squash, zucchini, cucumber, bell peppers, onions, bean sprouts, etc., all make a delicious salad paired with spinach or romaine lettuce. Add some healthy fats and a lean protein and you'll be full for hours after!
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6. Shouldn't: Diet Soda
I know what you're thinking, "Diet soda is better than regular soda though!" Technically, it's not. They're both filled with chemicals that can lead to some pretty scary stuff, and do you really want to be drinking something that you can clean your toilets with? Diet soda is one of the main causes of that lower belly fat that you can't get rid of. I used to be a diet coke addict and would get terrible headaches because you forget to drink water. Swap out diet drinks (or soda in general) for sparkling water or kombucha!
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7. Should: Spicy Foods
Now I'm not talking about putting hot sauce on your pizza and calling that healthy. I'm talking about cayenne pepper, wasabi, jalapenos, tabasco sauce, and much more. If you put these things on your salads or dip your chicken into it, your body has to work overtime to work it off which means you rev up your metabolism. Plus, spicy food just tastes so much better than regular food!
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8. Shouldn't: Refined Sugar
Refined sugar is in so many foods. If you find yourself eating processed food, white breads, white rice, cereal, and sweets, your diet is probably filled with refined sugar. Many foods have refined sugars to add flavour to them, which is not necessary. You can amp up the flavour in foods by using stevia, all natural peanut butter or coconut butter. Cutting out refined sugars will not only make a dramatic difference in your energy levels but you'll drop pounds quickly too.
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9. Should: Green Tea
Not a food, but it's still absolutely amazing for you. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that are so beneficial to your body. If you look on the label of any 'fat burning' product, green tea is on there. It ups your metabolism and also lowers the risk of cancer. It's an all over superfood without being a food. There is nothing that green tea can't do, and it goes beyond weight loss.
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10. Shouldn't: Smoothies
Smoothies are always targeted as healthy, and they definitely can be. If your smoothie has a good balance of carbs, healthy fats and protein (or two out of the three) then you'll be benefiting your body. However, having a smoothie that consists of orange juice, berries, a banana and yogurt is not healthy. All of that sugar will be stored as fat, which you don't want. A healthier smoothie alternative is to use almond milk or water instead of orange juice, swap out a fruit for half an avocado, coconut oil or almond butter and put in some protein powder to stay full. Both smoothies can be about the same in calories, however the second one gives you way more nutrients and will actually help you stay lean!